University of Mississippi officials are investigating charges that members of the football team used gay slurs and disrupted a performance of "The Laramie Project," which deals with the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard. Matthew's mother Judy reacted with sadness and anger. She gave a terrific interview to Greg Couch of Fox Sports:
"Someone learned to hate like that," Shepard's mother, Judy, told me Thursday, shortly after hearing what had happened. "We're still teaching it. Classic case of bullying.
"This is exactly the kind of behavior that goes on and encourages other people to act on it. ... I feel great sadness for them. The football players. And greater sadness for the folks who were actually doing the play. It breaks my heart they had to go through the diatribe of thoughtless, cruel people. They think they are doing a great piece about social justice, and these clowns start harassing and disrespecting their performance."
Couch says the players involved should be suspended immediately, which is the least that should happen. The school should bring Judy Shepard in to speak to a meeting of all the teams and tell them her son's story. Maybe then they would understand.
Interestingly, the one openly gay cast member, Garrison Gibbons, said he does not want suspensions:
"That's not a positive outcome of this," he said. "Our department loves the football team. I would just love for this campus to be more accepting of the LGBT community.
"This should snowball into something where our campus comes together. ... Even though Ole Miss has come a long way and Mississippi has come a long way, we still have strides to make."